Sunday, March 22, 2009

Short Story Weekends...Once Upon a Time Style...Week 1

"The April Witch" by Ray Bradbury. (From The Golden Apples of the Sun.)

Talk about the perfect short story to start an enchanting journey into spring with. The story of a 17-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to be in love. But being in love brings the risk of losing her magical powers. So she comes up with a plan...

I won't share her plan with you, you'll want to discover that for yourself. But I will share the first you can delight in Bradbury's lyrical, mesmerizing words.

Into the air, over the valleys, under the stars, above a river, a pond, a road, flew Cecy. Invisible as new spring winds, fresh as the breath of clover rising from twilight fields, she flew. She soared in doves as soft as white ermine, stopped in trees and lived in blossoms, showering away in petals when the breeze blew. She perched in a lime-green frog, cool as mint by a shining pool. She trotted in a brambly dog and barked to hear echos from the sides of distant barns. She lived in new April grasses, in sweet clear liquids rising from the musky earth.


"Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Fair" by Charles de Lint. (From Dreams Underfoot.)

Confession time. As much as everyone raves about Charles de Lint, I've been somewhat afraid of entering Newford. I can't quite explain why...sort of a fear that I wouldn't "get it" or something, and then I would feel so very left out. My brain can be very hard on me sometimes. Well, once again, I learned that I needn't have feared. Quite the contrary! All it took was one short story to make me fall madly in love.

This story takes place in LA, with Ellen Brady wistfully wishing to see again the Balloon Men of her younger years. Wishing to witness the magic. When she goes out in search of them, she instead finds a runaway teen. And through her blossoming friendship with him, they both find the magic alive within them.

Ellen owns a book, How to Make the Wind Blow, by Christy Riddell through which I get my first glimpses into Newford itself. Though that may sound sort of convoluted, it really isn't. It's simple and complicated and magical and authentic. And I can't tell you how very eager I am to visit again.

She would see them in the twilight when the wind was right, roly-poly shapes propelled by ocean breezes, turning end-over-end along the beach or down the alley behind her house like errant beach balls granted a moment's freedom. Sometimes they would get caught up against a building or stuck on a curb and then spindly little arms and legs would unfold from their fat bodies until they could push themselves free and go rolling with the wind again. Like flotsam in a river, like tumbleweeds, only brightly colored in primary reds and yellows and blues.


Was actually hoping to read more than two short stories this weekend, but I'm finding it somewhat impossible not to pick up The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents during every possible reading moment.


Nymeth said...

yay Maurice :D

Both stories sound wonderful. My first experience with Newford was actually a bit confusing, but it was my own fault...I started with The Onion Girl and should have started elsewhere.

Chris said...

I'm so glad that you finally got to experiecne Newford! Don't you wish you could live in that little town? :) I read my first Beagle short story in his new collection yesterday and it was pretty damn good. Going to read a second today and hopefully post about it!

Susan said...

Yaay to finally discovering Newford, and reading Ray Bradbury! I guess I'd better read a short story tonight, I was wondering if we were starting right away....I applaud your left brain :-D for finally letting you try de Lint!

Kailana said...

I am not doing as well with short story reading this weekend as I had planned. No huge surprise there, though! I am hoping to squeeze some in later today, but I also really want to finish the book I am reading. There are not enough hours in the day!

Literary Feline said...

The first paragraph of "The April Witch" is very tempting!

I haven't yet read anything by Charles de Lint, but I would like to at some point. I am glad you are finally giving him a try.

A Short Story Weekend sounds like a great idea. I might have to give it a try next weekend.

Stephanie said...

I'm so glad you like the de Lint!! I'm going to try to find some short stories to read for this year's challenge. Last year for OUaT I read the book, Memory and Dream by de Lint. It was incredible. One of my favorite books ever!!

Eva said...

I loved "Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Shop" and now I want to go read "The April Witch." Especially since April's my favourite month! (My birthday is April 11th, hehe.)

katrina said...

Two more books added to my wishlist. I'm going to be reading de Lint for the first time for this challenge, I'm trying not to have too high hopes.

Shelley said...

The name de Lint is actually new to me since joining this challenge and I realize that I must read his works!

valentina said...

I love the sound of both short stories!